Sound Effect – YolanDa Brown

Award-winning songwriter, saxophonist, bandleader and broadcaster YolanDa Brown developed a deep love of music from an early age via her father’s ample record collection. She learned the piano, violin and drums before settling on the saxophone as the instrument closest to her musical voice – and it has been the backbone of her career ever since.

YolanDa was the first artist to win the MOBO Jazz Award two years running, and has since been bestowed with a string of accolades including an Urban Music Award and an honorary doctorate from East London University.

Her latest album, Love Politics War, fused her love of reggae, jazz and soul, and hit the top of the UK Jazz Chart on its release in the summer. She becomes the new Chair of the Youth Music charity in January 2018.

The first record I ever bought was…

Dangerous by Michael Jackson. I was nine and it was the first album I remember going to the record shop to buy. I loved listening to Liberian Girl on the Bad album and was entranced by the production. I couldn’t wait to get Dangerous home, plug in my headphones to pick out all the little production details and be transported to another place.

The first song I developed an obsession for was…

Don’t Rock the Boat by Bob Marley. I remember my dad had all his records but the collection I loved to play was Songs of Freedom – a four CD pack including his first recordings with the Wailers right through to his last live performance of Redemption Song. It was fascinating!

My favourite cover version is…

Aretha Franklin’s Skylark (alternate version), from The Great American Songbook album. I love her phrasing and the guitar complements her perfectly. There is another version available with the same set-up, but it’s this particular performance that makes me want to listen over and over again!

The song that should’ve been a hit but never made it is…

Focus by Emma’s Imagination. I have only ever bought a song after watching a TV talent show once and this is the one. Emma’s vocal is so clear and full of emotion, and I am drawn to the writing and composition. I think we should have been hearing more of her.

The last great record I listened to was…

Chronology by Chronixx. I really enjoy the new generation of reggae, but I also love how he stays true to the foundation rhythms and sounds. A refreshing listen and I love a record that can make me move!

The song I wish I’d written is…

Tough question! I love to listen and try to understand the process of other musicians. If I had to choose I’d say Semente by Snarky Puppy. I like writing songs with sections, textures and a great groove. This song is something that I would love to have on my discography as it has all three!

The song that makes me cry is…

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack. I revisited it when my daughter was born and it had such strong meaning to me that it felt like I was hearing it for the first time and from a different perspective. Such a relevant song mixed with hormones equals tears every time I hear it!

The song that I know all the words to is…

I am quite good at remembering lyrics and sometimes surprise myself at how quick I pick them up. When I like a song, the lyrics and bass line are what get stuck in my head. I get the most joy singing songs in Spanish and getting them word perfect. When driving in the car it has to be Chingon’s Malagueña Salerosa.

My all-time favourite film soundtrack is…

Love Jones by The Music – it covers all the bases for me. A fantastic mix of jazz, soul, old school RnB and spoken word. From Lauren Hill to Duke Ellington and John Coltrane to Maxwell and Cassandra Wilson. It never gets old and always makes me want to watch the film again.

https://open.spotify.com/user/m_magazineprs/playlist/2InL0dpQOA01UdPuW230oC